Music has always been a part of my life by Geoffrey Merritt

My earliest Sunday morning memories include homemade waffles (made by my father, king of the homemade waffle), the Sunday comics (prompting my interest in Walt Kelly’s Pogo) and classical music on WILL-FM. Over the years, my parents have taken my brothers and me to scores of operas and concerts at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana, IL, and occasionally, while living and traveling in Europe, to an opera or concert in Berlin, Rome or London. Although classical music was always in the background at my parents’ house, it was soon overshadowed by a new passion: rock and pop music, which quickly became omnipresent in my room and my world. I still went to Krannert every so often, once in a while I took my parents’ tickets for a performance at the Lyric in Chicago when they couldn’t go, and my CD collection includes the requisite fifty or so essential classical CDs. But, for the past thirty or so years my world has revolved around rock and pop music.

Fast forward to last year when I got an e-mail from Dr. Katherine Syer (Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Illinois) asking if I would put a poster in my store promoting a lecture series, featuring her friend Tony Palmer, which she was organizing. “Sure, why not?” After the poster had hung in the store for a while, I decided I should attend a couple of the lectures. Most of them had to do with classical music, but one was about movies (“The Music of Stanley Kubrick”) and another was a screening of Palmer’s film “All My Loving” (filmed in 1968 with the Beatles, The Who, Cream and more, set against an eerie backdrop of the Vietnam War). I chose these two. When it was all over, I was totally amazed by what I had heard and seen (you really should see the film if you ever get the chance), but I was even more impressed by Katherine Syer, who had put the series together and brought it all to town.

Long story short, Katherine and I met for coffee, I talked about my record labels, she talked in great depth about Tony Palmer, opera, Wagner, classical music and her husband, William Kinderman (Professor of Musicology at the University of Illinois). Her obvious enthusiasm and love of opera and classical music made me want to know more. So, over the next few months, after many cups of coffee and a few dinners, I became good friends with both Katherine and Bill (and, of course, their two adorable daughters—Anna and Marie). During one visit I learned that Bill’s recording of the Diabelli Variations had gone out of print. Would I be interested in re-releasing it? Of course! But, much like on those late night TV infomercials, I knew immediately that I wanted more—more than just the previously released Diabelli Variations recording. “What else do you have, Bill?” Well, the answer was exactly what I was looking for: how about a live lecture explaining the story behind this amazing work. Deal!

Thus a new label was born, new friendships were made, and this stunning recording is available once again. My hope is that after listening to this CD, whether you are well versed in classical music or just discovering it, you will find it a worthy addition to your music collection, that you will learn something from the included lecture, and that you will be inspired to learn more. Music, and by that I mean all kinds of music, can play a very special role in our everyday lives. The more you listen, the more you learn, the more you will discover. As for this CD, I hope you love it—all of it.

Geoffrey Merritt.
Arietta Records

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